Susan Kim writes for television, theatre, fiction, nonfiction, film, and graphic novel. She has been the story editor/head writer on dozens of animated TV series. With husband Laurence Klavan, she wrote the young adult fiction trilogy, Wasteland. With Klavan, she also wrote two graphic novels: City of Spies (artwork by Pascal Dizin) and Brain Camp (artwork by Faith Erin Hicks). As a playwright, Kim wrote the stage adaptation of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, as well as The Arrangement, Where It Came From, Open Spaces, and the book to the musicals Merlin’s Apprentice (with Stephen Cole & Matthew Ward) and Allison Under the Stars (with Zina Goldrich and Marcie Heisler). One-acts include Memento Mori, Pandora, Dreamtime for Alice, Rapid Eye Movement, Seventh Word Four Syllables, and Death and the Maiden. She wrote the nonfiction book Flow: the Cultural Story of Menstruation, with graphic designer Elissa Stein. She has been nominated for the Emmy six times, the Writers Guild Award four times, and won the 1996 Writers Guild Award for Best Documentary for PBS’ Paving the Way.
BA in English and Theatre, Wesleyan University
AREA OF EXPERTISE
- Dramatic Writing
- TV Writing
- Graphic Novel
- Young Adult
A screenwriter I know calls himself a “swan” since he writes only esoteric, literary films. I’m more of a mongrel. Over my professional life, I’ve written one-act plays, young adult fiction, documentary film, short stories, children’s theatre, musicals, animation, graphic novels, TV specials, nonfiction prose, and screenplays. These are distinct forms with their own rules, processes, and demands. Yet each relies on the same basics of storytelling: structure, character, conflict, and stakes. And this informs how I teach.
You can’t write without understanding these fundamentals. At the same time, writing is unique and idiosyncratic, informed by not only technical demands but also imagination, taste, psychology, and world view. Yes, good writing demands aptitude. More importantly, it also requires discipline, openness, and patience. As a teacher, I encourage personal expression while reinforcing the discipline of craft. I help students identify and clarify their voice and the story they’re trying to tell. At the same time, I support the basic tools of writing and how to use (and sometimes subvert) them. How do you shape a play or a story? How do you maximize the potential of a graphic novel, stage play, TV pilot, or collection of stories? I encourage my students to engage in a deep and meaningful way with their reading lists and to read closely, the way all writers do – for reading is ultimately the best teacher. Lastly, I try to empower all my students to open up to the vast creative potential within them and to help them find its best expression.